Tutorials and Electives

Marketing Case Study: Impotence

Marketing has wrestled with the problem of image associated with the consumption of Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and other drugs that enhance sexual performance in men. First, a major effort was undertaken with the medical community, which as always performed as an efficient and engaged member of the pharmaceutical marketing industry, to rebrand the problem, giving it a new name that bore with it no hint of shame or ignominy. The condition formerly known as impotence would henceforth be known as erectile dysfunction, a properly scientific term that was then conveniently shortened to ED. Who among us doesn’t have a friend named Ed? Then the marketing guys got busy trying to address the social stigma men might feel about needing such help. First, they got a former United States senator to be a spokesman on the subject, get it out of the closet, as it were. This was not 100 percent effective, possibly because Bob Dole was not anybody’s idea of a sexually attractive individual at that stage of his life and also because he was, at the time, quite old. And while old men might form a good potential market for the new drugs, its marketers certainly didn’t want to limit its sales to geezers. There were so many young, occasionally virile men around who, if properly marketed to, would line up to get in on the action. What to do?

It wasn’t long before a solution to this issue was found, and now all ads for ED drugs feature the men formerly found smoking Marlboros, manly, manly men in their forties or early fifties engaged in manly pursuits, some of them with big trucks, most with wives at least ten years their junior who are clearly in an amorous state of mind, a fact that disturbs them not because they . . . are . . . ready. In fact, it is often difficult to know, when these well-crafted messages come on the air, whether you are watching an ad for Viagra or for a Ram pickup truck. That, students, is effective marketing. The tagline warning users that if they experience an erection lasting more than four hours they are to call a doctor added an exciting tang to the proceedings, particularly for the target audience.

For further information on the lessons contained here, refer to The Curriculum: Everything You Need To Know To Be A Master of Business Arts.

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